Monday, 23 January 2012
How Meteorologists Learn to Forecast the Weather: Social Dimensions of Complex Learning
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Meteorologists that become forecasters have little support in learning how to apply knowledge of atmospheric science in non-linear ways to real world forecast problems. This paper presents the final results of an inductive study on how 11 public and private sector forecasters learned to forecast the weather. Two models resulted. One describes the triggers for learning and how those change over time. The second describes how forecasters built their ability to forecast the weather. A central, repeating theme about a strong sense of professional identity with their role as a forecaster was consistently important to how the participants engaged in learning, particularly when they were poorly supported and had to create strategies to learn. A second strong theme emerged: learning was faster, forecasters were happier, and their resulting knowledge was better connected and more thorough if participants had good social support. Results are well supported through triangulation with the experiences and observations of training officers, empirical studies and published reflections of forecasters, empirical models of adult learning, and indigenous science learning.